The book launch celebrating the anthology of over 40 artists is Saturday
LANSING – Last March, Melissa Kaelin needed the means to stay in touch with the local arts community in Mid-Michigan.
Kaelin, Michigan State University’s communications manager and writer of fiction and non-fiction, had started working remotely amid the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic.
She felt isolated, her creativity blocked.
“I started to think about ways to connect,” said Kaelin, of Lansing.
Live Facebook gatherings have become the place where local artists share their work. Kaelin regularly hosted virtual events from June to August.
Online dating was accessible and inspired Kaelin to organize “Experiment on the social gap: an anthology”, which features the work of more than 40 authors and artists who have worked to bridge the social distancing divide during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The book was released in late November and the creators will celebrate it on Saturday with an event at the Moores Park Pavilion with performances and a memorial for Dwayne Sortor and Samuel Mills, two Michigan artists featured in the book who died during the pandemic.
Create during the pandemic
When Sarah Sanders contracted COVID-19 in March 2020, she struggled with chest pain, headaches and fever.
But Sanders fared much better than so many others with the virus, she said, and with that knowledge came guilt.
“There were days when I felt good and there were other days when I was just out,” Sanders, 24, said of Mason.
The body art she painted on herself and then photographed in April was inspired by her experience. It’s also the cover of “Social Gap Experiment”.
“I felt great and didn’t know how to talk about it and felt like the only way to do it was to paint this on myself,” Sanders said.
She’ll be recreating a version of body art at Saturday’s book launch.
Cheryl Caesar, associate professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University, is also planning to attend. His poetry is featured in the book.
“If there was a silver lining to the pandemic and the shutdown, it was that people started going online across the country and around the world,” Caesar said.
Profits will be donated to COVID-19 awareness efforts
The book features the work of several Lansing residents, MSU graduates and others, many of whom do their jobs in mid-Michigan, Kaelin said.
There is poetry, fiction, prose, illustrations and photographs that deal with everything from identity, loneliness, mourning and social justice issues to fantasy, humor, politics and satire.
All proceeds from the book will benefit outreach efforts, including United Way’s COVID-19 Relief Fund and United Way’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund for Michigan’s Capital Region.
Saturday’s book launch is scheduled for 2 p.m. Masks will be required when guests are not seated or speaking into the microphone and social distancing measures will be taken. Those interested can confirm their attendance by visiting https://www.facebook.com/events/192947789242284 .
Contact Rachel Greco at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @GrecoatLSJ.